Fantasy Forecaster: Strange things afoot in pre-break week


On tap: It's the final week of baseball's traditional "first half," even if every team has now played more than half of the 162-game schedule. Wacky things can happen in this week; teams sometimes demote younger pitchers to work in the minor leagues until after the All-Star break, some starters get called in relief over the weekend because the break will afford them a few extra days of rest, and other starters get skipped entirely to gear up for the All-Star Game. So don't get too cozy with your pitching matchups!

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Game breakdowns | Hitters' matchups | Hitters in their Comfort Zone

Base stealers' matchups | Pitchers' matchups | Two-start pitchers

They got chili dogs over there? Game breakdowns

Note: Weather reports are based on upcoming weather forecasts (through Friday), as well as historical trends in those cities. "Poor weather" doesn't guarantee rainouts; those are merely the teams with the highest probability of one or more.

Hit like Mays: Hitters' matchups

Note: Hitter-friendly ballparks are based on recent statistical data (2005-08) comparing home/road performance, a similar method to our Park Factor page. Some personal opinion does go into making ballpark selections.

Hitters in their Comfort Zone

Run like Hayes: Base stealers' matchups

Note: Matchups are determined by examining both an opponent's catcher and pitching staff. Obviously, teams like the Mets (catcher: Brian Schneider) and Tigers (Ivan Rodriguez) rate as tough teams to run on, while teams like the Braves (Brian McCann) and White Sox (A.J. Pierzynski) rate as easy teams to run on.

Give 'em the heater: Pitchers' matchups

Note: As with the hitter-friendly ballparks, pitcher-friendly ballparks are based mostly on 2005-08 data, with some personal opinion involved.

Two-start notes: Aaron Harang, whose Saturday start was pushed to Tuesday because of forearm tightness, makes the perfect cutoff point in mixed leagues for Week 15. I'll give him my OK, but the pitchers after him look too risky. The Tigers could push Eddie Bonine back in their rotation, giving Justin Verlander two starts. He'd be a top-five option -- probably No. 4 overall -- in that event. A hamstring injury threatens Eric Hurley's status for the week. I'm penciling him in for Tuesday, making him a two-start option, but his health is what puts him in the clear "no thank you" class. The Astros could skip Runelvys Hernandez's Sunday start, giving Roy Oswalt a two-start week instead. Oswalt would rank right around Harang's spot if that happens. There's an outside chance the Giants will push Kevin Correia back in their rotation to give Tim Lincecum two starts. The matchups aren't great, though, so he'd likely rank around sixth if so.

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.